The final horn had sounded as the Nashville Predators fell 4-3 to the Colorado Avalanche. One team to the postseason and the other home for the first time in nine seasons during the summer.
Riding down the elevator with the media was longtime General Manager & President of Hockey Operations David Poile alongside future GM Barry Trotz.
Poile exited Bridgestone Arena with 3,075 games as a GM going 1,533 – 1,172 – 192 – 178 overall. During his time in the NHL, he was a GM for 40 consecutive years going from the Washington Capitals to Nashville.
On Friday night he was honored in the third period with a video from captain Roman Josi & a standing ovation from the crowd. The team exited the bench and skated over to the right corner of the visiting defensive zone and held their sticks up saluting him
Now the organization turns a new page with Trotz returning to Nashville as the second GM in the franchise’s history after nine years away as a head coach for the Capitals and Islanders.
Nashville will pick at No. 15 in the 2023 Draft on June 28 with 12 other selections slated to take place this summer.
How game 82 went vs Colorado
Devon Toews got Colorado on the board first scoring from the top of the blue line. The puck went off of Dante Fabbro & in as Kevin Lankinen prepared for the shot 28 seconds into the game. It was the quickest goal the Predators had allowed all season.
MacKinnon scored his 40th goal shifting to Lankinen’s glove side to claim a 2-0 lead 3:20 into the opening period.
Not long after, the Predators found the back of the net as Kiefer Sherwood ripped home a wrist shot from the right circle. Nashville cut into the lead but only a short time after MacKinnon answered right back.
"“Obviously I wanted to spoil the party over there,” Sherwood said. “They’re a wagon for a reason, so if anything we can take lessons from their top guys and hopefully get better this summer and when the season starts we’re ready to go.”"
Then Colorado’s assistant captain worked his way back into the slot & beat Lankinen as he slid his right pad over to the post but it wasn’t enough to keep the puck out extending the Avalanche lead to 3-1.
Nashville entered the second allowing 10 scoring chances, but Tommy Novak found Luke Evangelista for his 7th goal of the season 3:32 into the second period.
"“They’re young but they were hungry, they are good players,” Head Coach John Hynes said. “One of the important things coming down the stretch in these situations is to play meaningful games because you need to see how people respond to pressure, in high stakes environments, and in high stakes games.”"
Novak’s head was up all the way down the left wall & he found the rookie coming in hot breaking into the offensive zone & the rest was history as Nashville then trailed by one.
"“He’s got an NHL offensive mind,” Hynes said of Novak. “A couple of key points for Tommy coming through was the consistency of how he can find his game night in and night out. But I also think the other one was being a guy at this level where lots of times when you have veteran players in the lineup and younger players come in it’s difficult for them to get ice time. But when the door opened for him it was understanding at this level how he can play against top players.”"
Novak finished the season with 43 points in 50 games played in Nashville. He was signed to an extension for one more season coming in at $800,000.
Nashville wasn’t done in the second as Yakov Trenin found Sherwood for his second goal of the night on the man advantage.
The first powerplay chance came as Kurtis MacDermid was called for tripping. Sherwood tied a career with two points in a game, versus his former team, for the fourth time at the NHL level.
Sherwood started the Predators campaign scoring in Prauge versus the San Jose Sharks and was the final skater in gold to net one for the Predators.
"“I just try to take it day by day and I’m blessed to have the opportunity & the leadership from the top down from our captains and coaches. It allowed everyone to contribute right away,” Sherwood said. “There’s something to be said about that. I just feel very grateful for the opportunity and try to play my game and help the guys around me.”"
After 40 minutes Nashville was tied 3-3 with the defending champions limiting them to no high-danger chances in the second period.
Back-to-back penalties by Nashville highlighted the opening five minutes of the third. Fabbro was called for roughing while Jake Livingstone was assessed a tripping minor. Nashville killed both penalties off.
Then it was forward Zach Sanford who had a chance right in front of Georgiev but missed the open net as the play went back to even strength.
The next stoppage was when David Poile was serenaded by the fans during his final regular season game as the GM.
The game-winning goal came down to the man who had two in this pocket already. MacKinnon on the rush put one home past Lankinen with 1:42 to play in regulation to complete the hat trick. A new career high in goals (42) for the Nova Scotia native.
After the final horn sounded the Nashville Predators saluted their fans to conclude the 2022-23 season.
"“At times you’re going to be under pressure, you’re going to be under duress and things aren’t going to go the right way,” Hynes said. “I think you have to be able to find ways to communicate with the team and adjust things that you may have to do to be successful.”"